Many separated parents have raised concerns about their child(ren) traveling between two different households to visit their other parent. The current government restrictions appear to have caused some confusion for a number of separated parents in respect of whether they should be continuing with existing child arrangements. The Government have continued to clarify that children under 18 years old moving between the households of separated parents will fall into one of the exceptions for ‘staying at home’.
The guiding principle in child arrangement is the welfare of your child(ren). This means that, if you feel your current arrangements expose your child(ren) to unnecessary risks due to your Covid-19 concerns, then try to come to an agreement with your co-parent as to an arrangement that would minimise these risks.
Whilst writing this article, the Government guidance states that:
‘Parents can still take their children to school, and people can continue existing arrangements for contact between parents and children where they live apart.’
This creates the exception to the ‘Stay at Home’ guidance. This means that parents can continue to spend time with the children in the usual way, if they do not live in the same household. The rules allow for travel between different households where the ‘exceptions’ apply. It appears that an exception is where the travel is in order for parents to be able to continue to spend time with their child(ren), where their child(ren) live in a separate household to them.
If you share child care arrangements with a parent you do not live with, the child(ren) can move freely between both parents’ households. You do not need to form a support bubble with the other parent to be able to do this.
However, if a child, parent, or member of their household is self-isolating, for whatever reason, then all agreed arrangements for parents to spend time with the child(ren) during this period should not take place and those self-isolating should not leave their homes. If you find yourself in this position, we would urge you to consider making alternative arrangements for the child(ren) to spend time with the non-resident parent. This may include facilitating additional telephone and video contact and potentially trying to agree on additional time for the child(ren) to spend with that parent after their period of self-isolation is over.
We urge clients to make sensible choices at this time and to follow their respective governments’ travel guidelines but to also keep in mind what is in their children’s best interests and try and minimise change to contact arrangements where possible. That said, the health and welfare of the children should always be the first consideration.
For those parents that are having difficulties seeing their children, due to the other parent disagreeing with whether or how contact should take place, it may be necessary to seek legal advice.
If you have any questions on the above or feel that you could benefit from our assistance, please do not hesitate to contact the family team at Child & Child, we’re always here to help. Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org in the first instance.